10 Ways to Stay Healthy at Work

healthy_at_workIt’s easy to get a bit…well…lazy at work, especially cushy office jobs where you sit most of the time in an air-conditioned building with plenty of access to treats.  But don’t worry—making healthy choices at work is actually a lot easier than you might think!  Whether it’s taking some time out for deskercise or bringing healthy snacks for when you get the afternoon munchies, health in the workplace is just a few easy tricks away!

  • Get up and move!

Not only is more movement good for variety during the day, it can be great exercise, too.  Try parking farther from your place of work and walking in, or getting off the bus one stop earlier.  And when you’re in the building, take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.

  • Stock up on healthy snacks

Have healthy options handy for snack time to avoid being tempted by treats and vending machines.  Nuts, granola bars, and fresh fruit are easy to carry and not too expensive to keep around for that 3 o’clock snack break.

  • Pack your lunch

It’s easier to make healthy choices at work if you’re deciding ahead of time—not when you’re stressed and hungry at noon.  Pack your lunch, even if it’s just a simple turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.  This makes it easier to control portions and make sure you know every ingredient you’re consuming.  If you don’t have easy refrigerator access, try bringing a small fridge you could keep under your desk.

  • Make healthy suggestions

Want to go out to lunch with your coworkers?  No problem, if it’s only once in awhile—but why not suggest a place with healthy options?  You can also check out the restaurant’s menu online before you go so you know the healthiest dishes available beforehand.

  • Take mini exercise breaks

Not everyone has an office door they can shut, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a bit of exercise in!  Gentle stretching or using resistance bands or small hand weights can do wonders.  You can also stretch a bit at the water cooler or do 15- to 30-second leg lifts underneath your desk.

  • Get up and move some more!

It’s important to take breaks throughout the day.  Try taking a walk during your lunch break, or walk to a coworker’s desk instead of emailing.  Have you tried walking meetings?  Sometimes discussing challenges while moving can generate new and interesting solutions!

  • Drink lots of water

Aside from keeping you hydrated, drinking a lot of water will ensure that you have to get up fairly regularly to use the restroom—and even that little bit of movement can be great for your health!

  • Preplan office holiday treats

It seems like it’s always a holiday or someone’s birthday, which means treats in the break room—often not very healthy treats.  It’s totally okay to splurge once in awhile, but if you feel like the treats are getting out of hand, consider arranging with the rest of your coworkers for one day a month to celebrate.  That will keep the empty calories from piling up.

  • Keep happy hour tame

Happy Hours can be a great way to blow off some steam and bond with coworkers, but they can also lead to less-than-healthy food and drink choices.  Try limiting yourself to one drink instead of three and maybe fewer Happy Hours throughout the month.

  •  Try standing rather than sitting

A lot of people swear by standing desks.  There are a variety of options, some cheaper than others, and by standing rather than sitting all day, you’re likely to keep moving.  You could also try using a balance ball instead of a desk chair to keep your posture in check. Other tips on limiting the amount of time you spend sitting can be found here.

Got a great workplace health tip?  Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Phases of a Period Workout

Woman jogging on dirt road

Here are some great exercises for each phase of your menstruation cycle.
Image: Shutterstock

Building on our blog post from last week about period workouts, here are some specific exercises for each phase of your menstrual cycle, straight from GirlU founder Mayling Kajiya.

 

Menstruation Phase

Day 1 signals the first day of menstruation (bleeding). I wouldn't recommend doing too much on those days because you are probably uncomfortable. A simple walk or hike is sufficient.

 

Follicular Phase (Yay My Period is Over!)

Right after your period is over (maybe day 5) is the optimal time to really kick into high gear.

Yay my Period is Over Workout (YMPO Workout)

Warm up - light jog and stretch

3 rounds for time, no stopping between sets:

20 Burpees

15 Chair Stepups

15 Chair Pushups

20 Chair Tricep Dips

 

Ovulation Phase

It's time to turn it down a notch and go for longer, low-intensity exercises

Warm up - light jog or stretch

1 round:

20 Walkouts with legs straight, walking body out into a pushup position and walking back with straight legs

20 Forward Lunge with arms raised over your head and back knee almost touching the floor

20 Side Lunge (Lateral) with knees inline, toes and pushing your butt back

20 Curtsy Lunge

30 Ab Curls with legs resting 90 degrees on a chair

 

PMS Phase

This is the perfect time to go for a light jog, 3 miles max. Try going outside so you can enjoy the scenery! Or check out that Hatha yoga class that you’ve been eyeing. Even a meditation class would be great.

Your Workout and Your Period

Young woman running in forest

Working with your period, rather than against it, can help you plan a great period workout.
Image: Shutterstock

While it’s true that exercise is a great way to deal with period and PMS symptoms like bloating, it’s also true that sometimes you just don’t feel up to it. Have you ever noticed that your energy levels and exercise abilities change depending on where you are in your cycle? Working with your flow rather than against it when planning a period workout can make exercise a whole lot easier.

Rob Kominiarek, an Ohio physician who specializes in fitness and hormones, says that hormonal shifts during your period can affect your ability to exercise at optimal levels. For example, during the first week of your cycle, when you’re actually menstruating, your estrogen levels are lowest, which encourages your body to burn carbohydrates instead of fat. The takeaway? “Despite fatigue and muscle soreness, fast workouts are ideal and may feel easier on these days,” Kominiarek says. “This is the time to train and make gains in your fitness regimen.” Of course you should pay attention to your body and not push too hard! But the first week of your period workout is a great time to test your limits.

The next (roughly) 14 days of your cycle involve ovulation, which is a good time to slow things down a bit for your workout. Be sure to do plenty of warm-ups to loosen muscles and joints.

The luteal phase of your cycle, weeks three and four, involves a hormonal shift: your progesterone levels rise as your estrogen levels fall, which could lead to feeling more sluggish. In fact, according to Stacy Sims, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Stanford University, you’re actually less tolerant of heat because progesterone levels delay your sweat response, so it takes longer to cool off. The trick here, according to Sims, is to take it a bit easier with lower intensity exercises—an easy run instead of interval training, for example, or simpler yoga poses. Or, if you’re really feeling lousy, take the day off! Just make sure to get back on track as soon as you’re feeling better.

Being mindful of where you are in your cycle can make for a much more effective period workout. With a bit of planning, you can get the most out of your workouts—and still give yourself time to take it easy when you need to!

(Looking for specific workouts for the different phases of your cycle?  Stay tuned....)

 

12 Days of Period Health

Christmas fruit, nuts, and cookies covered in snow

In honor of the 12 days of Christmas: 12 tips for period health!
Image: Shutterstock

Did you know the 12 days of Christmas actually start on Christmas? That means after the usual festivities, you’ve got another set of days to celebrate! In the spirit of the traditional song, here are 12 tips for optimal period health as we see the year out.

On the first day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of movement. Sitting for long periods of time can be bad for your back, not to mention your overall health. And if you’re already feeling down that time of month, why make things harder on yourself? Take a break and move!

On the second day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of hydration. It’s no joke trying to get in the recommended 8 cups a day, but optimal water intake is essential for your health, not to mention curbing the worst PMS and period symptoms.

On the third day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of looking fabulous while exercising. You know exercise is important for alleviating cramps and other symptoms, but why not look fantastic while you’re at it?

On the fourth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of cutting back on caffeine and sweets. We’re not saying you have to give them up entirely—especially around the holidays!—but you’ll definitely have fewer PMS symptoms if you make a special effort to keep to the carrots rather than the cake during that time of the month.

On the fifth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of plenty of sleep. Being on your period can make you extra sleepy, so make sure you go to bed and get up at the same time every day to regulate your circadian rhythm.

On the sixth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of motivation. This one can be especially tough during winter, so make sure you reach out and get the support you need to keep up those healthy habits and keep away the PMS symptoms!

On the seventh day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a healthy breakfast. Don’t skip it! Starting the day with a healthy meal will keep your metabolism in gear and give you energy for the rest of the day—especially important during that time of the month.

On the eighth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of Love Uninterrupted. Check in with yourself and your partner about expectations hopes for your relationship so you’re starting off the year in a great place to weather the inevitable ups and downs. Don’t have a partner? Make sure your friends, family, and other loved ones know how you feel!

On the ninth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a walk outside. Get in a solid dose of daily sunlight and exercise, and watch your mood soar!

On the tenth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a soothing yoga session. Relax and alleviate period cramps and other symptoms at the same time with a gentle yoga routine.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a supportive bra. Nothing beats sore breasts like a bra that’s well-fitted and meant to last!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a month’s supply of GirlU! The compact is super chic, but the best part is beating the PMS symptoms…for good!

7 Fall Fitness Tips

Woman jogging through fall leaves

Check out these 7 tips for jumpstarting your fall workout!
Image: Shutterstock

Sure, the weather’s getting colder, but it’s actually a great time to get out there and work on your fitness routine. Whereas New Year’s resolutions often fade after the party, starting a new workout plan in fall allows you to create good habits for the holiday season. And if you’re in school—or your kids are—you probably think of September as the beginning of the year anyway!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started with your fall workout:

  1. Work with the weather. Get inspired by gorgeous fall leaves by walking, running, biking, or skating in the park. And if you’re lucky enough to live near a beach or lake, your options for kayaking and canoeing are wider than ever, since those areas tend to be less crowded during the fall.
  1. Learn something new. School isn’t the only thing that starts in the fall! Gyms often start new classes around this time of year, which means great introductory sales. Plus, if you’re learning something new, you’ll likely start off slowly with burning calories and build up as you become more comfortable with the new routine. By that time, it’ll be warm weather again—just when you want to be toning up for swimsuit season.
  1. Focus on you. Wellness is about more than just your body. Consider working on other areas, too: take up meditation or yoga, learn a new language, take an art class. Expand your horizons.
  1. Give it time. The amount of time it takes your body to get used to a new workout varies, but many experts agree that three to six weeks is about right. So if you feel like giving up right away…don’t! Commit to your routine (with modifications as you need them) for the best results. Make your life easier by choosing something that’s fun and convenient—a nearby walk, a video you can do at home, or a gym class that’s on the way home from work or school.
  1. Don’t be scared of the dark! Fall usually means it gets darker earlier, so if you’re going to be outside, make sure to wear light-colored clothing, a reflective vest, and/or lights so cars can see you.
  1. Layers are your friends. The experts recommend three layers to keep you warm and dry. The layer closest to your skin should be clothing with wicking capabilities, often called DriFIT. This awesome fabric wicks moisture away from your skin, which keeps you from having to deal with being wet and cold. Over that, you should have a layer to keep you warm, and on the outside, a layer to deal with the elements—a windbreaker or raincoat, for example.
  1. Motivate yourself! Remember why you’re doing this workout. Are you trying to lose weight? Tone up? Get ready for a 5k? Everyone has different reasons, and you’re more likely to stick with a routine that means something to you.

Don’t let fall pass you by! It’s a great time to take stock of your workout and enjoy the best parts of the season.

What to Do About Sore Breasts During Your Period

Woman with sore breast

Sore breasts can be...well...a pain. Here are some tips for dealing with them!
Image: Shutterstock

Breast pain is one of the most common symptoms experienced during the menstrual cycle—in fact, reports of sore breasts in the medical literature go back all the way to 1829! More recently, a study found that 69% of women attending an ob-gyn clinic had regular premenstrual breast pain. For some, the pain is so severe and lasts so long (at least seven days) that it’s referred to as cyclical mastalgia, which can interfere with sleep, work, school, social functioning, and sexual activity.

If you’re dealing with sore breasts every month, no matter what the severity, don’t worry! Though science isn’t entirely sure what causes it (most believe it’s related to the fluctuations of hormones), there are lots of things you can do to feel better right now.

  • Make sure you’ve got a really supportive bra. It’s estimated that 80% of women wear bras that don’t fit right, so make sure you’ve got the right size and style for your body! You might also try wearing it at night for extra support.
  • Take some time out. Relaxation techniques can do wonders to calm the nutty hormones behind sore breasts. Try soothing music or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Go herbal. You’ll want to talk to your doctor to be sure you cover all the angles, but herbs with anti-inflammatory elements--including the herbs in GirlUninterrupted!—have been shown to reduce breast soreness.
  • Diet.  Keep an eye on your salt and caffeine intake. If you can manage to completely avoid salt for 1-2 weeks before your period—or at least cut way down—you’re less likely to encounter the more annoying PMS and period symptoms. You’ll want to cut down on high-fat foods, too.
  • Exercise.  You’ve probably heard this before, but exercise really can help relieve PMS symptoms, especially sore breasts. And, of course, it’s good for you! Even if you’re not up for your usual routine, try to do a little something every day.

Of course there are medications you can take as well, both over the counter and prescription. But the first line of defense should be taking a stab at these natural (and mostly free!) options. Just a few small changes to your daily routine can make a world of difference in dealing with sore breasts, not to mention other PMS and period symptoms.

5 Tips for Dealing with Menstrual Cramps—Naturally!

Woman in bed with cramps

Menstrual cramps are no fun--but there are easy, natural solutions!
Image: Shutterstock

Is there anything worse than menstrual cramps? Okay, there probably is, but it definitely doesn’t seem like it when you’re feeling like Mother Nature’s just kicked you in the gut.

Luckily, you don’t have to rush straight for the medicine cabinet! Check out these five tips for relieving menstrual cramps naturally:

  • Exercise. You may not feel like getting physical when you’re dealing with cramps, but studies show that exercise can relieve cramps by releasing beta-endorphins (basically feel-good chemicals). Exercise also helps burn the chemicals that cause muscle contractions more quickly, which means cramps clear up fast!
  • Heat. For generations we’ve heard that heat can help with cramps, and in 2006, Dr. Brian King proved it. His study showed that applying heat to internal pains such as stomach aches and cramps can relieve the pain for up to an hour.
  • Diet. What you eat makes a big difference in dealing with cramps. Instead of foods full of simple sugars and fats, which can make PMS symptoms worse, try nutrient-rich foods like turkey, whole-grain bread, flaxseed, and spinach, which can help prevent the inflammation that causes muscle contractions—the culprits behind cramps.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Even though alcohol is a diuretic, it can cause you to retain water during your period, which makes cramping worse. Tobacco has been shown to cause menstrual cycle irregularities. It’s best to cut back on alcohol to one or two servings a day and cut tobacco entirely out if you can.
  • Reducing stress. Women self-reporting on their menstrual cycles and symptoms found that stress made their cramps worse during the first phase of the menstrual cycle. Stress can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, too.

When the menstrual cramps get bad, know that you’ve got a variety of natural options to fight back!

Only have a Few Minutes to Work Out? Try These Exercises!

Exercise-in-ten-minsWe all have days or weeks when work, school, family – or anything else – gets in the way of our workout time. With added stress and busyness often comes the tendency to be lazy or eat unhealthy, but don’t let that throw off your healthy game!

Whether you are having a busy week or never seem to have enough time to work out, we believe that little steps can make a big impact. Doctors have even reported that regular exercise, regardless of how little, can have a lasting impact on your health and mental acuity.

Don’t have time to spend an hour at the gym or on a run? Here are a few options for ten minute or less workouts that work your arms, legs, butt and abs:

Ben Greenfield, a Fitness and Triathlon expert and Get-Fit podcast host recommends completing the following three times total:

  • 50 jump jacks
  • 15 push ups
  • 15 squats body weight squats
  • 15 dips (use two chair seats or something sturdy to hold onto)
  • 15 reverse lunges per side

Check out a video on reverse lunges here.

This is a 6-minute workout circuit by Lo Bosworth (the workout starts at 1:43), which shows a step-by-step for all of the exercises. Complete the following three times total, 60 seconds for each exercise (that’s just 18 minutes total!):

  • Plank balance for 60 seconds
  • Oblique blaster
  • Shoulder Press
  • Bicep Lifts
  • Warrior3 Lifts
  • Booty Lifts

We recommend adding some cardio as well, with 50 jumping jacks or butt kicks to really amp it up.

Anna Renderer, a fitness host, has created a 10-minute workout video for the “lazy girl” in all of us. This 10-minute circuit workout should be completed twice and requires a set of light free weights:

  • Trunk Twist
  • Bridge
  • Bird Dog Crunch
  • Alternating Chest Fly
  • Triceps Extension
  • Seated Bicep Curl
  • Mini Sidewinder

Do you have a short workout you have mastered? Share your quick workout secrets with us in the comments below!

 

Is PMS Cramping Your Style?

cramping

What is actually causing the pain of cramps

It’s that time of the month. Like a snake shedding its skin, the lining of your uterus must contract to bring the uterine lining down and out of the body. The uterus is made of smooth muscle tissue, and just like any other muscle in your body, doing hard work can cause it to cramp. Unfortunately, this muscle movement must happen for your period to occur. For most women with moderate cramps, an over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medicine works well.  If the pain is unusually severe, please see your doctor just in case there is something else causing that pain.

Though getting up and moving around may be the LAST thing you feel like doing during your period, exercise helps manage the discomfort and pain of cramps. The endorphins released during and after exercise are natural painkillers that help alleviate the pain of cramps.   Go for a walk or a quick bike ride so you can take your mind off your misery and put all of your muscles to good use.

Valentine’s Day Fitness Routine

Fitness tips on the goIt's Valentine's Day soon, and to make sure you show your best ASS-etts, focus on a chest and glutes workout this week.

L is for Lift Your Butt

No pain, no gain! Do 100 Squats with 10lbs dumb bells in each hand.

Break it up into 4 sets of 25 repetitions.

If you don't have dumb bells, then go ahead and use body weight. Try to go a little faster though since you won't have much in terms of resistance.

For a complete squat, make sure your hips are parallel to the top of your knees at the end of the squat.

Ahem: Stand up all the way - no cheating! You want to aim for quality with your movements. Do not rush through them.

O is for Operate the Rounded Booty

Next up, 100 2nd position ballet squats. How you ask?

Get a chair and put one foot on the seat of the chair. Keep your toes turned out as if they were pointing to a mouse on the floor.

Break the set up into 4 sets of 25.

No dumb bells need here, just your body weight. If you want to spice it up, unleash your inner bootcamp instructor and make yourself do this exercise with dumb bell bicep curls as you squat down. Fun right?!

Same as before with full deep squats and TAKE YOUR TIME.

V is for Vaporize the Armpit Fat

Let's keep it moving girl! 50 Triangle Arm Push-ups.

Get on your knees with a yoga mat and get into your knee push up position.  Make a triangle shape with your opposite thumbs & first finger and place it on the floor right below your boobs. Flatten your back, tuck your butt under.

Total of 50 push ups and break them up into 5 sets of 10.

Make sure you go has deep as chest in line with bend of elbows and drop your shoulders from your ears.

E is for Express the Cleavage

Finally, show some love for the girls. Do 45 Chest flys on your back with 15lb weights in each hand. If you don't have any dumb bells, although by now you might want to consider investing in some, then take a 1 gallon water bottle and use that.

Lay down on your mat and tuck your hips under and engage your core muscles. Bring the weights together right above your chest and bring them open so you feel the pressure in your chest and upper back muscles.

Make sure you open all the way out until the the back of your hand almost touches the floor. Again, go slow and work on squeezing your chest muscles.

You can break it into a 3 sets of 15 reps.

That's all for today! Now go show your body some L-O-V-E!